The Australian macadamia industry's 40th anniversary celebrations come to Noosa this week where local macadamia growers will join Australia's best chefs to celebrate our iconic native nut in a magnificent range of signature dishes at the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival.
Delicious Australian macadamias, grown just kilometres away in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, will take centre stage in many of the finest 'tasting plates', marquee stalls and cooking demonstrations at the festival.
"I can't think of a better way to celebrate this momentous macadamia milestone," says the festival's acclaimed executive chef Timothy Montgomery (from Berardo's) who will feature local macadamia nuts in all three of his degustation courses at the start of the event.
Montgomery came up with the idea for the dishes while researching local produce. He discovered the "wonderful story" of how Aboriginal people (who called the macadamia nut 'Kindal Kindal') used to gather in the Blackall Ranges at certain times each year to eat the nuts.
European settlers later named macadamias 'the Bauple nut' (after the town of Bauple, just north of Gympie, where they discovered it in 1858), and Australia now leads the world in export, production, research and development, providing approximately 35 per cent of the world supply to more than 40 countries. This year marks the 40th anniversary of its commercial production, dating back to when the Australian Macadamia Society, the industry body for growers, was first established in 1974.
"For my courses in each of my degustations I wanted to create something which expressed the region, so am pairing red claw with bunya and macadamia," said Timothy.
"Macadamias are synonymous with this region - it's the original home and perfect location to grow macadamias. Our Aussie growers produce the best quality, best tasting macadamias in the world!
"They're such a versatile nut, and nothing compares to their creamy texture or unmistakable buttery taste."
Macadamias will also feature in the Mezze course (roasted and spiced) at the 'Visit to the Middle East Picnic' (with TV chef Shane Delia, Ben Williamson and Michael Rantissi), Phillip Johnson's (Ecco Brisbane) mango panna cotta, orange granita, macadamia shortbread and banana ice-cream dessert at the 'Top Tastes of Queensland Lunch' and TV personality 'Phippsy's macadamia and coconut crusted prawns at the Seafood Afloat Trail.
Local macadamia growers Bart and Eileen Geeson, who are in the midst of harvesting their 2014 crop, are excited that the spotlight will be well and truly on 'the world's finest nut' at the festival.
"As local growers, it gives us a great sense of pride to see our local nuts showcased in such a wonderful way," says Eileen. "To see the nut being enjoyed and used creatively by some of the world's top chefs so close to where they are grown is really satisfying."
Australian Macadamia Society Market Development Manager Lynne Ziehlke is delighted to see such a strong macadamia representation at the festival.
"The Glass House Mountain - Gympie region is the third-largest macadamia producing region in Australia, producing around 10% of Australia's macadamias. This region is the macadamia's ancestral home, so it is fitting that it is so highly featured in such a signature event," said Ms. Ziehlke.
"There are more than 700,000 macadamia trees in the region, 150 macadamia growers and the industry is proud to be one of the major horticultural contributors to the local villages and towns."
Australian macadamia growers are proud to sponsor the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival and are suppling local macadamia nuts and oil for chefs to use throughout the event.
Festival-goers are encouraged to eat, tweet and enjoy the delicious macadamia dishes served over the weekend and tag any macadamia-inspired photos with the official Australian Macadamias hashtag #AusMacadamias.